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I was one of the “pro-Palestinian hecklers” that faced off against Alan Dershowitz at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre on February 25.

I heckled because there was no freedom of speech in that United Israel Appeal (UIA) propaganda event. The issues of the stealing of Palestinian land and the killing of Palestinian people were not addressed. I have strong Jewish connections as well as Palestinian friends, some of whom were demonstrating outside, together with the valiant Jews Against the Occupation.

In her March 21 address to the National Press Club in Canberra, ACTU secretary Sally McManus successfully skewered the Malcolm Turnbull government for their woeful disregard for workers' rights.

Explaining his call to fast track visas for white South African farmers, the renowned humanitarian Peter Dutton, whose famed concern for those in need of asylum is matched only by his complete lack of potato-like features, explained: “They need help from a civilised nation like ours.”

Pacha Guzman, a leading activist with Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), told a public meeting in Sydney on March 21 that despite serious challenges, Venezuela’s pro-poor "Bolivarian Revolution will win".

Guzman also reaffirmed the continued strength of the popular movement for socialism launched by former President Hugo Chavez and said she expects his successor, President Nicolas Maduro, to win the May 20 presidential elections.

Sydney is in the grip of "tollway madness" and urgently needs a planning overhaul if it is to become a healthier city, the recent FitNSW forum for planning and health experts was told.

The result of the Batman by-election on March 17, triggered by the resignation of Labor MP David Feeney over his citizenship status, shows Labor, with the right combination of candidate and policy, can hold off the Greens.

Labor’s Ged Kearney retained the seat, with 43% of the primary vote. The Greens’ Alex Bhathal, who many expected to win, received 39%. The Liberals did not contest the seat, although a variety of small conservative parties did.

South Australians headed to the polls on March 17 to decide whether they would return the incumbent Labor Party to power after 16 years or hand government to Steve Marshall’s Liberals, with Nick Xenophon’s SA Best as a significant political force.

The results saw the Liberals win, overcoming their recent history of factionalism and disunity marked by ongoing leadership battles. Optional above the line preferential voting was introduced this election, but a redistribution of seats proved more detrimental to Labor.

There were multiple demonstrations on the weekend of March 17–18 while a host of dictatorial leaders from the region were welcomed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to a Special Summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

A packed meeting in Bairnsdale in eastern Victoria on March 21 was horrified as the implications of a planned mineral sands mine in the area were revealed.

The Kalbar Resources mine has been in the planning stage for several years and is due to start next year. The site is at Glenaladale, about 20 kilometres from Bairnsdale in grazing country, but only 350 metres from the $200 million a year vegetable growing industry in the Mitchell River Valley.

With general elections likely to be held in May, the left and democratic forces in Malaysia are discussing how to respond.

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